The Minor Actinide Laboratory (MA-lab) of ITU is a unique facility for the fabrication of fuels and targets containing minor actinides such as americium and curium. It is of key importance for research on Partitioning and Transmutation (P&T) in Europe, as it is one of the only dedicated facilities for the fabrication of MA containing materials, either for property measurements or for the production of test pins for irradiation experiments.
It consists of ten cells forming two separate chains. The main chain consists of 7 cells. Its protection wall to shield the operators from the gamma and neutron radiation emitted by the isotopes of these elements, have 50 cm water and 5 cm lead as protection at working level and 10 cm polyethylene and 2 mm lead above. The second chain consists of 3 cells behind a protection wall of 10 cm polyethylene and 5 mm lead.
Telemanipulators are used for normal operation. In addition, extensive automation with remote control and robots have been included in the design. However, the cells are in fact standard glove boxes that permit manual intervention in the absence of radioactive sources, in case of maintenance and repair.
The fabrication in the MA-lab is based on advanced liquid-to-solid processes to avoid dust-formation and its accumulation in the cells, which would make manual intervention very difficult.